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Thursday, April 24, 2008



The six-man Crash Crew recorded a few old school anthems, one of which ("High Powered Rap") was released before Grandmaster Flash found a hit with the same jam (as "Freedom"). Based in Harlem's Lincoln Projects, the collective was formed by high-school friends E.K. Mike C, Reggie Reg (Reginald Payne), La Shubee, Barry Bistro, G-Man, and DJ Darryl C (Darryl Calloway). Beginning around 1977, gigs at block parties and Harlem's Club 197 gave them experience, and E.K. Mike C's studio connection gave them a chance to record much earlier than most other rappers. Borrowing from the funk track "Get up and Dance" by Freedom, Crash Crew recorded a short demo named "High Powered Rap" and sold the self-released single to fans at shows. Time hasn't recorded whether Sugar Hill got the idea for a new recording based on the song from Crash Crew or some other source, but regardless, the first national hit for Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five was 1980's "Freedom," based on the same song. The group's first release on Sugar Hill, the single reached the R&B charts -- it was indeed far superior to Crash Crew's version -- and caused some enmity between the two acts.

Ironically, Crash Crew soon made their own appearance on Sugar Hill, with quite a few tracks, including old school classics "We Are Known as Emcee's (We Turn Parties Out)" and "Breakin' Bells (Take Me to the Mardi Gras)." Even with five rappers, Crash Crew wasn't a very talented rap group; they excelled at party jams with a lot of repeat choruses instead of rapping. The group disappeared soon after, and none of the members continued in the music industry. In 2000, Sequel compiled their work for the collection We Are Emcees.




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